Fibre challenge

mixed fibresAlexis had suggested a fibre challenge she had seen which she thought we might enjoy. It is not compulsory. Those of us who want to participate are going to do that. You can see our stash of contributed fibre. We had to bring along 100 gm of good quality carded fibre. No other requirement other than it had to be ready for spinning. We have all sorts of colours and some interesting fibres here.

Alexis is going to divide the fibre into parcels for each person who contributed. We’ll all get a bag of mixed fibres when we return to our spinning group next year. We then have to spin it. We may not add or take away anything. We spin what we are given. We had thought we might then have a bit more of a challenge to then make than fibre into something which we would share. At this stage we are thinking that might crowd our calendar too much.

It is going to be really interesting to see what each person does with their bag of fibre. It is always living proof everyone is unique and looks as things differently.

Equipment Day

What a stark contrast yesterday was to the day before. On Thursday it had been 42 degrees with catastrophic heat conditions forecast and then, when we were waiting for the bus Friday morning, the ocean had massive waves and it was blowing a really cold wind. We were so glad to get on the bus. Undeterred, we talked all the way up to the Adelaide Hills’ group Equipment Day in Littlehampton, we talked all our way around the venue, all our way to The Felting Ewe at Lenswood, all our way around the She Cave and then all our way back home on the bus. We love a good yarn!

We were warmly welcomed to the Adelaide Hills’ group and we spent a lovely time mixing with all the fibre people and looking at what was there. We were offered a nice morning tea and a beautiful lunch. We came away with books and magazines, bags of fibre, wool tops and bags of fleece and crochet hooks! It was an extremely sociable event where everyone was happy to share their skills and knowledge in a friendly way.

At the Felting Ewe we could see how much time and effort had gone into the impressive gardens and then we enjoyed looking at the feast of colours and fibres in the She Cave. We loved the colours and then the examples of Brenda’s felting. It was such a lovely place to be and we bought wool tops, silks, bits for needle felting and bits for the  tiny Eel spinning wheels.

Everyone was happy and it was a good way to get away from the feeling of the oppressive heat the day before. We can’t wait to see what everyone makes with their purchases.

We love spinning

We do. We do love spinning and the wheels and looms never stop. The colours encourage and inspire us and we just love that rhythm of the wheels. We like to make wool batts and spin those but we like the colourways of tops and then we have been interested in experimenting with different fibres. Mostly it is merino and alpaca in our group but we’ll try dog hair, camel, cotton , plant fibres and rare breeds. We do it to see and then we do it because each fibre feels different. The colours can be outrageously bold or very soft and subtle. Sometimes it is just natural fleece colours and other times we like to play with natural and chemical dyes to see what happens. Our wheels are all different too. Some members are more than happy with their electric wheels and others like to play with their manual wheels. Electric wheels are obviously more transportable because of the size. The latest passion for some of the members, thanks to Christine, are the little 3D printed Eel Wheels. You need to be patient setting them up but they really are a bonus for quick and easy small scale spinning.

All about the genes

Last week when we went to join the Victor Harbour Spinning group we were given a talk about rare breeds of sheep and how important it was to keep the gene pool strong. We have lost a large number of sheep breeds world wide because some sheep just don’t make money  and climate change is making areas unviable for sheep farming. The North Ronaldsay seaweed eating sheep are under threat because of climate change and they are trying to breed them to be grass eating to help their survival but then they won’t be the North Rondaldsay sheep as such. The Manx Loagham sheep date back to the bronze age but no longer have the variety of fleece colours since some colours are not popular. The Rare Breeds Trust keep a current list relevant to Australia. We need to keep the gene pool strong so we can keep our sheep healthy. They are social animals and were probably the first domesticated animals we humans had.

On the other end of the scale Christine was telling us today about spider goats. Professor Randy Lewis, a molecular biologist ,worked out how to get the spider drag line silk gene into goats’ milk so we could have better access to industrial strength silk! The video above tells you about it and you can read more on Business Insider.

As a spinner you can help sheep stay viable by selecting their fleece for spinning. It is also a chance to experiment with new and different fibres being produced so that you build the next bank of knowledge for current fibres on the planet. It then comes down to whether you support the breeds associated with your country or you help support breeds world wide. The talk made us really think about these sorts of issues and how we can play our part to ensuring fleece providing animals continue to be a part of our world but also how we can be alert to the fibre changes which are coming about because we live in the age of technology.